Pamper yourself

The lymphatic drainage massage rendered with light strokes will leave you feeling relaxed and your face looking refreshed.

A fragrant oil blend, a medley of persuasive strokes kneading the facial muscles, and gentle pressing of pressure points is surely bliss for the skin and senses. Yet, of late, therapists are suggesting the subtle skin technique of lymph drainage massage for enhancing facial appearance.

The lymph drainage massage aims to move lymph—a clear fluid that contains infection fighting lymphocytes or white blood cells and removes wastes, dead cells, excess proteins and toxins from tissues—in lymph vessels located just under the skin.

The Lymphatic System
The lymph vessels are part of the body’s lymphatic system that comprises a network of fine lymphatic vessels throughout the body (both deep and superficial), lymph nodes, and lymph organs that move and filter lymph. Many lymph vessels are located just below the skin of the face and neck (front and back).

“Lymph generally moves in the body due to the peristaltic-like movements, that is alternate compression and relaxation, of the smooth muscles lining lymph capillaries, further facilitated by compression of skeletal muscles surrounding the lymphatic network. Hence, manual lymphatic drainage massage strokes are generally mild pressure strokes rendered in a manner that mirrors the action of the lymph vessels themselves,” says Dr. Priya Peethambar, Spa Manager at Trident, Nariman Point, Mumbai.

Light and Restful
The lymph drainage massage strokes are thus light, slow, rhythmic and repetitive. Further, they are directional, that is directed towards local nodes and two main lymphatic ducts located in the chest. In this way, the lymph drainage strokes help in moving the lymph in the lymph vessels, enhancing their carrying capacity and increasing the lymphocytes that build the body’s immunity.

“Circular movements with intermittent pressure around lymph nodes are the key for lymph drainage massage. Feather-like strokes, movements such as light tapping, and massage techniques such as stationary circle, pump, rotary and scoop are used. There should only be mild stretching of the skin with the fingers and low pressure movements as the lymphatic network is just underneath the subcutaneous tissue,” explains Dr Peethambar.

By virtue of the technique, the facial lymph drainage massage helps to ease puffiness of the face, remove waste/toxins and improve the immune system. In most cases, no oil, cream or moisturizer is used for lymph drainage, though some prefer using very little for a bit of slip. A lymphatic drainage massage—like a facial massage—can be done when time permits, though some experts suggest opting for a lymphatic drainage in the mornings to ease fluids that may have built-up during the night, and keeping the facial massage as a bedtime ritual to relax and invigorate the face.

An Easy Routine
Fingers of both hands are used while working movements. While different experts differ slightly in the strokes or sequence, the lymphatic drainage massage may be started by gently stroking the collar bone down towards the notch in the centre; the hands may be crossed to reduce pressure. Similarly, gentle strokes may be made downwards along the jaw bone, especially off centre as two large lymph vessels are located here. The next stroke is from behind the ears down the neck. This is followed by making a V with the index and middle fingers and placing the fingers on either side of the ears and gently bringing them down.

With one or two fingers, one could then stroke from either side of the nose outwards over the cheeks towards the ears, and outwards from the spot between the eyebrows to above them till the temples. The delicate eye area may be tapped very lightly only with the ring finger. Light strokes may be made along the length of the back of the neck, and from the base of the neck gently coming in front. The massage may be wrapped by once again lightly stroking the neck and the collar bone to ease lymph that has been stimulated by the strokes.

While the light pressure and rhythmic strokes are restful and relaxing, the movement of lymph leaves the face feeling calm and invigorated. Sip a cup of green tea or warm water with lime after the massage to linger in the bliss of the massage and gently wrap up the experience!

Keep in mind
The fingers should be lifted at the end of a stroke and then placed on the starting point to start the next stroke; do not move them back and forth. The strokes should be done very slowly. Allow for a short pause between strokes.